By Hassan Zaggi
Governments at all levels have been called upon to increase funding for women empowerment, especially, those whose businesses were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
In the same vain, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the government, religious leaders and other stakeholders have been charged to be ready to sacrifice all so as to fight the growing menace of gender-based violence in Nigeria.
The Regional Director, International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, West Africa who is also the National Coordinator of Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria, Assumpta Reginald, made the call at a media briefing to commemorate the International Women’s day, in Abuja, weekend.
She, however, insisted that empowering women economically can help reduce their vulnerability to abuse.
“One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the empowerment of women and girls. To achieve this SDG number 5 which is to reduce the incidences of gender- based violence, we recommend that the government, religious leaders, NGOs and other stakeholders to be ready to sacrifice all so as to fight this menace.
“We also recommend the increase in funding for women empowerment across the 15 high burden states affected by COVID-19 to assist women who lost their business to the pandemic,” she said.
Gender-based violence, she warned, has no social or economic boundary, reiterating that it is present in both the rich and poor countries and that it affects all socio-economic homes.
Assumpta recalled that “following the stay at home policy of the government during the height of the COVID-19, women and girls experienced gender and sexual violence at some point. Intimate partner violence was on the increase during the COVID-19.
“Women suffered much of it because they lack the will to negotiate sex with their partners.”
Speaking earlier, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu, lamented that women are at the receiving end of HIV epidemic.
“Looking at it from the family angle or even the numbers that are most affected, women are the majority infected and affected and yet they are most proportionately disempowered economically as well as in leadership and access to what they need to take care of themselves,” Dr. Gambo who was represented by the Director Strategy in the agency, Alex Ogundipe, said.
He, however, revealed that NACA has entered into partnership with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in an effort to challenge and tackle negative tendencies against women.
“This year, we have gone into partnership with the NHRC to enable us step forward and challenge every authority that combats key population or women. This is because gender violence reports show that the situation is worrisome.
“We have entered a formal agreement, we have a plan of action that we are taking forward. In few months’ time, you will begin to see result.
“Desks will be established for intervention where when people have challenges, they can report across the 36 states of the federation. The agreement was signed in the presence of the visiting director of the UNAIDS,” he explained.